Thursday, 19 December 2002
Adjournment Matters. - Investment Based Naturalisation Scheme.
Tom Parlon (Minister of State, Department of Finance; Laois-Offaly, Progressive Democrats)
I thank the Senator for raising this matter which I am taking on behalf of the Minister, Deputy McDowell. I would not wish to see the Senator's sleep pattern overly interrupted in the future or even during the Christmas period.
On 20 April 1998, the Government abolished the investment based naturalisation scheme which had commenced in 1989. In doing so, it decided that the Minister for Justice. Equality and Law Reform should initiate a review of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, to see how it might facilitate investment. The Minister was asked to consider additional legislative measures if, in the course of the review, information emerged which would warrant such measures.
To assist him in conducting the review called for by the Government, the Minister established the review group on investment based naturalisation comprising representatives of various Departments, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and two outside experts.
The report of the review group on investment based naturalisation in Ireland was brought by the Minister before Government in July 2002. The Minister arranged for its publication on 4August 2002 and a number of copies were placed in the Oireachtas Library at that time. Since then, the report has provided a useful focus for debate, which the Minister wholeheartedly welcomes, on the scheme.
A majority of the review group believed that the Government should retain the option, in the event of a changed economic or employment situation, of introducing an investment based naturalisation scheme and suggested a framework and rules for such a scheme. The group saw merit in a legal, as opposed to an administrative, basis for the scheme.
The motion proposed by Senator Quinn reflects a similar view. He proposes that the Minister considers legislation to make it impossible for any future administration to reintroduce an investment based naturalisation scheme except within a rigorous and transparent statutory framework. His motion, therefore, contemplates the possibility of an investment based naturalisation scheme, albeit on a statutory basis. The Minister is afraid that this is where their views diverge.